Song of the Day #1,002: ‘That’s Not the Part of Him You’re Leaving’ – Elvis Costello

A mere six months and 24 albums after I started the Elvis Costello weekends, I arrive at the man’s most recent album. 2010’s National Ransom picked up where Secret, Profane and Sugarcane left off, using the same musicians, similar styles and even nearly identical cover art.

But while the former album felt half-assed (by Elvis’ standards), National Ransom is a rich and resonant work — for my money, the most consistently great record he’s released since King of America.

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Song of the Day #996: ‘Down Among the Wines and Spirits’ – Elvis Costello

It’s funny that I’ve described Elvis Costello’s Secret, Profane and Sugarcane as “modest” and “minor” by his standards.

The opening track, ‘Down Among the Wine and Spirits,’ is introduced like this in the album’s elegant liner notes: “A Former-Champion Prize fighter Discovers His Name Printed Just Above The Liquor Licensee.”

Other songs on the album have similar introductory explainers: “A Dissatisfied Woman Fears Talking In Her Sleep,” “P.T. Barnum Reads An Abolitionist Pamphlet While Manufacturing Souvenirs Of The  All-American Tour,” “Profane Adaptation Of Pious Song Performed By Acclaimed Nightingale,” you get the picture.

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Song of the Day #995: ‘I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came’ – Elvis Costello

Just a year after Momofuku, Elvis Costello returned with a modest acoustic collection. 2009’s Secret, Profane & Sugarcane was recorded in Nashville with T Bone Burnett, and was Costello’s first totally acoustic album since King of America.

Call this one King of Americana. Costello tours the old American songbook, trying his hand at country blues and bluegrass, and his affection for these styles shines through every note. This album is a grower… it’s the opposite of hook-heavy, and some of its songs meander a little too much for repeated listening. But I admire what he’s doing here and at the very least, it’s a beautiful sounding album.

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Song of the Day #989: ‘Song With Rose’ – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello has collaborated with a boatload of artists over the years. He’s written songs with Paul McCartney, Aimee Mann, Burt Bacharach and Loretta Lynn, to name a few. A few years back, he wrote a song with Kris Kristofferson and Rosanne Cash and the trio planned to cut an album together, though that didn’t come to pass (at least not yet).

I like that an artist as prolific and excellent as Costello makes the time to write with other musicians. He clearly doesn’t need to do it. His muse is on speed, he could write original material from now until the day he dies. But he must get something out of these collaborations — even if it’s just the pleasure of sharing a room with somebody whose work he admires.

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Song of the Dy #988: ‘Flutter & Wow’ – Elvis Costello

Despite his forays into jazz and easy listening, every so often Elvis Costello returns to his roots and puts out a good old-fashioned rock-n-roll record. Such was the case with 2008’s Momofuku, his follow-up to the jazz collaboration The River in Reverse.

Named after the inventor of ramen instant noodles, the album was assembled in six days almost on a whim. Costello had been working with Jenny Lewis on her next album, Acid Tongue, when he decided to bring the same players (including two of The Attractions and Ms. Lewis herself) into the studio to cut a batch of songs he’d recently written.

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